Feb 5, 2023

In Our Art Gallery

     I bought this oil on canvas in the mid-1980's at a Birmingham gallery.

     It is the largest piece in the house, roughly 64" x 44', by French-born artist J.J. Gaudel

     It must have been a period he was going through as an artist (and I was going through as a collector!), because I also own a second piece (right), unsigned but clearly his, from the same time I lived in Birmingham.

Those two pieces are too large for the available room in our Montgomery, Alabama home gallery (left), so they are installed on the wall along the adjacent stairwell leading upstairs.

(BTW: The "columns" in the center of the gallery are actually remnants of a set for the old "For The Record" Alabama Public TV show I hosted. They are painted cardboard, and perhaps were originally used for storing fabric of some kind. They were being discarded and I saved them. I have to warn people not to lean on them as they are as lightweight as you can imagine, and will easily fall over.)

Feb 4, 2023

How much time left?

 The folks at Social Security know how much time you have left.

Well, at least based on your gender and age.

HERE is their life expectancy calculator. 


Tallest Buildings and Future Projects Size Comparison 3D Animation Compa...

And if you are interested...here is a list of the tallest buildings in Alabama. With the VERY tallest in Mobile...all of 745 Feet tall!

(Compare that to the tallest planned building in the world at 32,808 feet!)

Feb 3, 2023

Alabama Hospitals in Critical Condition....BUT...


“Last year was the worst year financially for hospitals nationwide, but the situation in Alabama is much worse,” said Erik Swanson, senior vice president of data and analytics with Kaufman Hall and the lead on the national and the Alabama reports
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Alabama’s hospitals have lost $1.5 billion dollars, money they couldn’t afford to lose."
The report clearly shows that Alabama’s hospitals are in serious financial difficulty which creates a huge threat to the ability of Alabamians to have access to healthcare.”



But ALSO: Read THIS REPORT about some historically large pay hikes for Alabama hospital executives a few years ago.

Many pregnant women stopped smoking


Cigarette smoking during pregnancy declined in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 2016 to 2021.

The drop in Alabama was to 6.1%...a 40% drop since 2016.


Figure 4 is a map showing the change in percentage of mothers who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy: United States and each state, 2016–2021 and percentage of mothers who smoked during pregnancy: Each state, 2021.

And yet, some states are in double digits!

 In 2021, levels of smoking during pregnancy ranged from a low of 0.8% in California to a high of 18.2% in West Virginia.


America's lowest RN Wages are in which state?


The lowest RN hourly wage is in

South Dakota

Hourly: $29.11

Annual wage: $60,540

Median annual household income: $66,143


 The 2nd lowest is in


Hourly: $29.77 

Annual wage: $61,920 

Median annual household income: $53,913

Your state: See it HERE.

Rosa Parks Celebrated

 Sacramento California is one of the places remembering her today, on what would have been her 110th birthday!


Statue of Rosa Parks at her bus stop in Montgomery.

Alabama Beach on Ten "Deadliest" list.

A website ranks beaches by most deaths from all causes. An Alabama beach ranks 9th. Travel Lens - America’s Top 10 Deadliest Beaches (1_fitted.jpeg

Travel Lens - America’s Top 10 Deadliest Beaches (1_fitted.jpeg

To see the criteria used to rank beaches as "most deadly", go to the source HERE.


Robert Bentley
Former Alabama Governor turns 80!
Robert Julian Bentley is an American former politician and physician who served as the 53rd Governor of Alabama from 2011 until 2017 upon his resignation after a political scandal and subsequent arrest. A member of the Republican Party, Bentley was elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. 
Born: February 3, 1943  Columbiana, AL
Spouse: Dianne Bentley (m. 1965–2015)
Previous office: Governor of Alabama (2011–2017)
Bentley was evicted from office for allegedly having a too-friendly relationship with a staff member in 2017.

Feb 2, 2023

10 years of 8/32 joint operation


 WAKA and WNCF officially debuted their combined local news operation on February 2, 2013. Based out of what was formerly WNCF's studios on Harrison Road, a newly expanded high definition-ready facility features state-of-the-art production capabilities which has allowed WAKA to finally offer local news in high definition. The broadcasts on WAKA and WNCF are known on air as Alabama News Network and shows are simulcasted between the CBS and ABC affiliates on weekday mornings, weeknights at 10, and weekends. The latter two time slots can feature a delay or preemption on one network if national programming runs into them.

Feb 1, 2023

Keep The Media Out

"This event will be closed to the press."


It's an easy way to block the public from finding out what is said. This time it's the GOP refusing to admit the media to their Winter Dinner with...shock!...Ron DeSantis as the speaker.

What are they hiding?

Jan 31, 2023

Big Changes for Montgomery-Built Car?

 An auto-centric website reports big changes are ahead for the Hyundai Santa Fe, a popular Hyundai model assembled at the huge Montgomery plant.

"The current car, introduced in 2018 and facelifted in 2020 for the 2021 model year, features curves everywhere, from the hood and fenders to the tapering DLO (daylight opening, design-speak for side glass), and falling roofline. But its replacement, which could be introduced as a 2024 or 2025 car, appears to have ditched curves for crisp, straight lines."


 Hyundai Plays It Straight With Geometric 2025 Santa Fe Replacement

See the full story HERE.

Chamber Music @ The Capri



February 5 @ 4:00pm

Members of the Elicio Winds are committed to promoting chamber music, supporting diverse American composers, and providing engaging community outreach opportunities. The ensemble strives to create dynamic and interdisciplinary programming which engages the larger artistic community and audiences at large. The Elicio Winds recently performed at several national conferences, including the 2021 College Music Society Conference in Rochester, NY and the 2022 National Flute Association Conference in Chicago, IL. The ensemble received a 2020 grant through the Alabama State Council on the Arts to commission five new works which highlight cultural elements of the state and a SEC Travel Grant to visit the University of Arkansas, where they led activities aimed at promoting chamber music among college students and arts education throughout the region. Elicio Winds will record a CD of their commissioned works in May 2023.

Back To The Future

"Read Herring" is reverting to New South Books. SMART MOVE!



(edited) By popular demand, Read Herring will formally change its name back to The NewSouth Bookstore effective March 1, 2023...we’re changing out our signage, telephone voice message, business cards and website as well.
Also: A store expansion will nearly double the square footage of browsing and display space. There will be more books, new and used, in the nonfiction and literary fiction sections, a richer children’s section, and a few shelves devoted to the horror genre curated by our very own Mike Breen, who just happens to be a huge and knowledgeable fan of that literature. They'll also be  expanding the American history, Southern history, and local history sections.

The staff is in pricing and organizing mode right now — a big (and tedious) undertaking. And there are riches among the new and used books going into the expanded store, which keep us excited about our work.

Alabama Alcohol Consumption


N I A A A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Understanding the impact of alcohol on human health and well-being




"The following are highlights from the current report, which updates consumption trends through 2020:


  • Per capita consumption of ethanol from all alcoholic beverages combined in 2020 was 2.45 gallons, representing a 2.9 percent increase from 2.38 gallons in 2019. This was the largest single-year increase since 1968, when there was a 3.4 percent increase (2.37 gallons in 1967 to 2.45 gallons in 1968).

  • Between 2019 and 2020, changes in overall per capita ethanol consumption included increases in 41 States and the District of Columbia, decreases in 4 States, and no changes in 5 States.

  • Analysis of overall per capita alcohol consumption by U.S. Census region between 2019 and 2020 indicated increases of 1.6 percent in the Northeast, 4.2 percent in the Midwest, 3.5 percent in the South, and 2.0 percent in the West.

  • Healthy People 2020 set the national objective for per capita annual alcohol consumption at no more than 2.1 gallons. In 2020, the overall per capita annual alcohol consumption level was more than 10 percent above target (> 2.31 gallons) in 30 States and the District of Columbia, 10 percent or less above target (> 2.10–2.31 gallons) in 13 States, up to 10 percent below target (1.89–2.10 gallons) in 4 States, and more than 10 percent below target (< 1.89 gallons) in 3 States."

Source: HERE.

Figure 4


" Of the 7.9 billion gallons consumed by Americans in 2020, beer was the overwhelming favorite — with an estimated 6.4 billion gallons drunk — followed by wine and spirits, of which Americans enjoyed 931 million and 635 million gallons, respectively. While it’s clear the pandemic had an impact on the volume of alcohol consumed by Americans, it also had an impact on what kinds of alcohol Americans reached for. In 2020, domestic consumption of spirits increased by almost 46 million gallons from 2019. In comparison, wine consumption increased by 22 million gallons, while beer consumption saw little to no change."


Jan 29, 2023

Get Ready for More Neighbors




"Last year, the South outgrew other U.S. regions by well over 1 million people through births outpacing deaths and domestic and international migration, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Northeast and Midwest lost residents, and the West grew by an anemic 153,000 people, primarily because a large number of residents left for a different U.S. region. The West would have lost population if not for immigrants and births outpacing deaths.

In contrast, the South grew by 1.3 million new residents, and six of the 10 U.S. states with the biggest growth last year were in the South, led in order by Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia."



Jan 28, 2023

That time I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane...

       My one and only parachute jump was done for a radio story. I had a cassette recorder strapped to my chest with a microphone attached to the helmet.
    It happened over Sylacauga, Alabama in the late 70's. 

    Yes that is me attached to that parachute, about to land...many hundreds of yards away from the landing zone. I escaped without any broken bones, though the bottom of one foot was black and blue.

(BTW: we had to edit out my first words.)

Jan 27, 2023

Media Training

      I met with the folks at the non-profit anti-poverty agency Alabama Arise this week to guide them through some media training...helping them be ready to do their best when they are being interviewed by the media.

     It can be nerve racking! We talked about preparing for the interview and doing your best as it is happening to come across as you want to...knowledgeable and professional.

     The bottom line: the vast majority of the time you have nothing to worry about...but you can be prepared just in case.

(Thanks to Chris Sanders and the rest of the Alabama Arise staff for inviting me!)

Jan 25, 2023

James Beard Awards for 2023


Two Alabama restaurants won awards:

For Outstanding Hospitality

Bottega, Birmingham, AL


Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)

Timothy Hontzas, Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL


See all of the awards HERE

North Alabama: Among Highest UMC Members leaving

 A new report indicates North Alabama has among the largest number of United Methodist Churches leaving during the schism.

It ranks North Alabama as losing 31.3% of its churches leaving during the dispute over accepting gay members.

 File:Logo of the United Methodist Church.svg - Wikimedia Commons

The region with the largest percentage is Northwest Texas, with 72.6% of the churches leaving.

Overall, fewer than 10% have left nationally, including some 200 churches in Alabama. 

ALERT, especially for Black Men Living in Rural Alabama


Risk of developing heart failure much higher in rural areas vs. urban

Large NIH-supported study showed that rural-dwelling Black men are at greatest risk.

Adults living in rural areas of the United States have a 19% higher risk of developing heart failure compared to their urban counterparts, and Black men living in rural areas have an especially higher risk – 34%, according to a large observational study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers from NHLBI and Vanderbilt University Medical Center analyzed data from The Southern Community Cohort Study(link is external), a long-term health study of adults in the southeastern United States. They compared the rates of new onset heart failure among rural and urban residents in 12 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). The population, which included 27,115 adults without heart failure at enrollment, were followed for about 13 years. Nearly 20% of participants lived in rural areas; the remainder lived in urban areas. Almost 69% were Black adults recruited from community health centers that care for medically underserved populations.

At the end of the study period, the researchers found that living in rural America was associated with an increased risk of heart failure among both women and Black men, even after adjustment for other cardiovascular risk factors and socioeconomic status.
Overall, the risk of heart failure was about 19% higher in rural residents than their urban counterparts. However, Black men living in rural areas had the highest risk of all — a 34% higher risk of heart failure compared to urban-dwelling Black men. 


Read the full story HERE.

Jan 23, 2023

ALMOST the most expensive eggs







Top 5 States Spending the Most on 1 Dozen Eggs

  1. Hawaii - $9.73 average (**53% more than runner up Florida**)
  2. Florida - $6.36 average
  3. Alabama - $6.12 average
  4. Nevada - $6.07 average
  5. California - $6.05 average

The USS Montgomery



     Does the latest U.S. Navy ship to bear the city's name have  a future? Perhaps not. There is active talk about selling it, and other Littoral Combat Ships, to Allied navies.

"The Department of the Navy’s first long-range shipbuilding plan in three years proposes multiple fleet procurement schemes for the Navy and forecasts the service decommissioning two Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships in the coming years, according to the document.

The Fiscal Year 2023 30-year shipbuilding plan, obtained by USNI News, shows the Navy decommissioning two Independence-class LCS – USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8) – in FY 2024. Jackson entered the fleet in 2015, while Montgomery was commissioned in 2016. Both ships were built by Austal USA."


More about the USS Montgomery HERE

How old is the ship? 

23 June 2016: The Navy accepted delivery of future USS Montgomery (LCS 8) during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard. 

So: 6 years 6 months 30 days.


Jan 22, 2023

New RSA Building stretching skyward in Montgomery

      We don't know if it will have the traditional green themed roof-line, but a new Retirement Systems of Alabama skyscraper is reaching skyward at the corner of High Street and Jackson Street. 

RSA Tower in Montgomery

    It will be RSA's 9th Class A office building, many of them in Montgomery.

R.S.A. says it has owned the vacant property for a couple of decades, and described the project as a "Class A office building with parking facilities".

On Jackson Street, across from new RSA Project

 "These improvements should benefit the surrounding areas with streetscape improvements and increased foot traffic. RSA does not own the historic buildings on the other side of S. Jackson Street, including what is commonly referred to as the Harris House and the Martin Luther King Jr. House, and has no plans to negatively impact these buildings.”

      RSA had built and/or operated office buildings for many years, including their largest, in New York City. You can see their holdings HERE.